Australia: The Search For Penguins (Day 1 in Country)
I was pretty tired after traveling for three days to get to Melbourne, so some details of my arrival are pretty fuzzy. In fact, I know I was at the airport, because that’s where planes land, but I have no actual memory of it.
I do remember checking into our hotel — in the suburb of St. Kilda — in mid-afternoon.
And I remember making plans immediately thereafter to find penguins, which, I had heard, returned to their home on the St. Kilda pier after dusk. Sunset that day was around 5:45pm, and the pier was about an hour’s walk from my hotel. So at 4:30, camera in hand, I set out on that dreary afternoon.
My Telstra pre-paid cell service wasn’t working yet (it turned out they had forgotten to activate it in the store where I purchased the SIM), so I had an electronic map, but no walking directions. Still, I found my way on foot, trying to remember as I crossed each street to look right for oncoming traffic.
My timing was perfect. I got to the water at 5:30, with a few minutes before dusk during which I could grab a snack.
Then as I was preparing to walk out onto the pier to see the penguins, the clouds opened up and rain attacked the beach with a vigor that lowered visibility to almost nothing. I couldn’t even see the pier. Walking out along it into the ocean to see penguins was out of the question.
I waited about an hour, hoping the rain would pass, but it didn’t. I gave up on the penguins and started to plan a journey back to the hotel. Fortunately, I had thought to bring an umbrella with me, but unfortunately the wind meant that it was of limited use. So I didn’t really want to walk an hour back. A taxi, maybe? Public transportation? In my jetlagged state I decided that wandering around at random would be my best bet, because I could probably find a taxi that way. Astoundingly, that worked.
Soaked, I got back to the hotel, had an edible if overpriced dinner there, and went to sleep at 9:00pm.
So I have no pictures of penguins to show you from that day. But stay tuned. I wasn’t giving up so easily!